on a literal odyssey
Last year I discovered what—in my opinion—is the best painting of Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom.
“Against the Christian Door” a painting by Andrew Knaupp, is set in the upstairs bedroom of Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844. The painting shows Joseph, Hyrum, Willard Richards and John Taylor holding the door of the bedroom shut, in order to keep out a mob of over 100 men.
Knaupp’s artistry is keenly attuned to historical accuracy. He spent months gathering historical data, photographs, information, sources and setting up the photo shoots for his models. From the death masks to their clothing, to their height, their weight, the time of day, the weather and even the diffusion of the light, Andrew Knaupp’s research was meticulous.
“I was trying to capture, as close as I could, what it might have actually looked like,” said Knaupp.
“What they really wore, how they really would have stood, how tall they were, what their clothes looked like, what their canes would have looked like, what the door would have looked like, so that it might transport the viewer to that moment.”
I had the incredible opportunity to meet and interview Andrew Knaupp (who, by the way, is a great guy; very humble, down-to-earth, kind and generous). Andrew said that for this painting, he wanted to capture the moment between Joseph and Hyrum when they realized that their time had come. He wanted to show the courage, determination and brotherly love on the faces of Joseph and Hyrum as they looked at each other for the last time in this life.
“Facing your own death,” said Knaupp “is one thing. Facing the death of your brother at the hand of a mob is another. People talk about the idea that their whole life flashes before their eyes when their own death is about to happen. If Joseph’s life is flashing before his eyes…he’s seeing Hyrum through that whole life. From the time they were little kids, before his First Vision or anything. And through all of those difficult times, he sees Hyrum.”
“I can’t think of someone better that the Prophet would want to have been with, in those final moments, than his brother Hyrum.”
The name of the painting is “Against the Christian Door,” because of an interesting detail about the door of Carthage Jail itself. Knaupp wrote, “The door of the jailers bedroom was a Christian Door, which is an architectural term used to describe the design of the door itself. This design was created to be a reminder to a Christian of their beliefs through the symbols of the cross and the open Bible, which were represented by the negative shape between panels on the top of the door, and the panels themselves at the bottom. It is ironic that Christian men in the mob were shooting through a Christian Door to kill men who had devoted their lives to the cause of Christ, and who died as Christian martyrs.”